How To: Find the Cocktail Dress of your Dreams

Got a cocktail party coming up and wondering what to wear? Here are some easy fashion tips for channeling your inner Carrie Bradshaw and turning out the picture-perfect cocktail party ensemble, whether you’re looking ahead to the summer festive season or planning a Zoom date with the girls.

Decoded... The Cocktail Dress Code

How about a quick history lesson before we get to the juicier stuff? The term “cocktail dress” was first officially used by Vogue in 1927. It was soon embraced by major fashion brands and has been around ever since.


Cocktail attire is a semi-formal dress code used for late-afternoon and evening functions like weddings, fundraisers or high-end parties. It’s a dressy vibe with a little bit of sparkle, but it’s not overly formal. Simply put, cocktail attire means a knee-length dress and a cute pair of heels. If your other half is planning to join you, he should wear a nice suit that’s still a few steps down from a tux.

How to Style Cocktail Dresses

Do: Know Your Hemlines

How long should cocktail dresses be? Cocktail dress hemlines are on the shorter side, with mini or midi hemlines. A midi is preferable if you’re going to a work-related event. If you opt for a minidress, keep it classy with a higher neckline, and steer clear of anything too flimsy or transparent.

Don’t: go overboard on the bling

The key here is to look polished but not overdressed. Accentuate your cocktail attire with a delicate amount of sparkle in either a hair accessory, earrings or a necklace

Do: Carry the right bag

The clutch is your most elegant option. The crossbody bag, although not a standard accessory, is a practical choice. It’s hands-free, neat and petite and perfect for parties where you’re mingling, nibbling on finger foods and, more often than not, holding a glass of bubbly.

Do: Wear the pants

These days, cocktail attire for women isn’t limited to dresses only. An elegant, tailored pantsuit or jumpsuit in a dark colour like black or navy is a perfect choice if you want something a little different. Bear in mind though, jeans and palazzo pants are a big no-no.

Do: Choose comfort and confidence

Cocktail dresses don’t have to be slinky figure-hugging little numbers; there are so many silhouettes to choose from, to flatter any type of figure. Look for fit-and-flare, A-line or wrap dresses in cocktail length and step out feeling like your best self.

Top Styles & Colours for the Season

The Little Black Dress is a timeless choice that will always be a hit at cocktail events. Don’t be afraid to mix it up though - there are so many colours and prints to suit all seasons. Spring Florals will add a touch of romance to a summery sunset cocktail do, while deep jewel tones and satin fabrics will look captivating at a late-night winter soirée.